Three of the best teenage footballers in the Cayman Islands have received a golden opportunity to further their careers in Europe.
They have been invited to train and play with the Dutch professional Premier League club Willem ll Tilburg for two weeks in March.
Willem ll is the second oldest club in The Netherlands and was voted the second best youth academy there behind the renowned Ajax Amsterdam system. Only Ajax Amsterdam have more players in their first team who came out of their own youth programme.
Jamaal Seymour, David Lee and Martin Webb were selected based on their technical and tactical skills.
Lee, 14, is an outstanding goalkeeper. Dutch coach and scout Roy Wilhelm and Ray Scott from West Ham United and Ipswich Town, both agree that these three Caymanians deserve the chance.
Wilhelm has just returned to The Netherlands having spent three months coaching the Academy Sports Club. He was brought over by Academy’s director of football Virgil Seymour who is forging links with many contacts in European football.
Wilhelm and Scott have great expectations for Seymour, 16, and Webb, 17, who have trained with the scouts many times and impressed them immensely. Goalkeeper David Lee has also impressed the coaches.
“It’s really hard to analyse players during a game,” said Wilhelm.”The technical and tactical level and especially the pace of the games are so different.
“But I know the players really well. They came to the annual Cayman Islands Football Association camp a few years ago, so I’m very optimistic that they can learn a lot in The Netherlands and that might help them to make the next step up. Cayman can be proud of them.”
Wilhelm recently worked for PSV Eindhoven before joining Willem ll. “We are looking for functional technique, we are not interested in circus acts,” he said.
“I’m not interested in players who don’t want to train because they think they are already too good to improve or players who hardly move in a game or practice.
“In The Netherlands we practice daily with our talented players and our training methods over there are based on repetition, day in day out.
“Seymour and Webb showed Ray and me enough to extend our invitation. This is good for Cayman football and I’m sure Virgil Seymour will be proud, he is the man who brought me here.”
Lee will return after his short stint but if the others are good enough they might end up staying on a year’s contract, or even longer.
Wilhelm likes the football set-up in the Cayman Islands but is concerned that passion sometimes takes over logic.
He said: “Caymanians need to separate their emotions from their passion. Emotion is about someone doing well and getting on. Passion is about liking or disliking that person and what people do to influence their progress. People in Cayman need to be more objective.”